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Published in The Furrow, vol.70 no.10, October 2019.


Forty years ago this month, Pope John Paul II came to Ireland. I was just beginning my last year in school at Saint Columb's College, Derry. It was a tense time. In the three months leading up to the pope's visit, 36 people were killed in the Troubles - including 16 Catholic and Protestant civilians. In 1979 I went to see the Pope at Drogheda and subconsciously I think his words on that occasion have possibly framed much of my thinking about this evening's theme - the role of faith in our politics.